Recently, my boyfriend and I were invited by a new friend of his to attend his wife’s birthday dinner at an upscale restaurant (over $150 per person) but were not explicitly told whether we would be expected to pay for ourselves or not. Unlike the other three couples invited, we are not wealthy and this would be a HUGE expense for us. Is there a proper way of asking whether we will be expected to pay? If we aren’t expected to pay, I would like to get the birthday girl a gift or a bottle of wine for the table… but I am hesitant to buy a gift if it turns out that we will need to pay for our dinner!
We have tried to indirectly ask the other couples whether they know if we will need to pay, but we have had no luck with getting an answer. Any suggestions? — Anonymous
Have you already accepted the invitation? If not, I would say something along the lines of: “We so appreciate being included in your wife’s birthday festivities and would love to help celebrate her, but I’m afraid that particular restaurant is out of our budget. Do you have plans following dinner that we may be able to join?” This gives the the host the opportunity to tell you directly whether or not he’s paying for the entire meal (and if he is, you thank him, and let him know you’d like to buy the birthday girl a bottle of wine that she would love), and it doesn’t put you in a position of incurring a huge expense for someone whom you’re just getting to know. It also sets a precedent going forward that when including you in group activities, your budget should be a consideration and that, if someone else is covering the tab, it should be explicitly expressed.
A few weeks later, this amazing man tells me, out of the blue, that he loves me. Looking in his eyes, I felt him looking into my soul, searching my pain, and kissing my wounds; it was like I could feel him speaking to my heart, telling me one day I was going to be just fine and that he was going to save me. Now he wants to move me in with him and I’m afraid. I am not afraid of him, but of the love he has for me. All my life, I have never been loved — not even as a child; I was mentally and physically abused as a child and, later, as a wife. Mr. X is so different and now I am afraid. I know you can’t tell me what to do as far as leaving my evil husband, but how can I overcome this fear of the love from Mr. X? — In Love with Mr. X
Oh, sweetie, this isn’t a fairy tale and Mr. X is not your knight in shining armor, riding in to save you. Only you can save you. The fear you’re feeling is your gut instinct, protecting you from making a mistake. Leaving your evil husband for a man you’re depending on to save you is really dangerous. What happens if he’s an abuser, too? How is being dependent on someone else going to do you any good? It limits you — both your power and your opportunities. Instead of relying on Mr. X to house and protect you, you need to take steps toward independence. Here are some ways you can do that. Once you are out from under your husband’s control, hopefully with the help of a therapist and maybe an organization that supports victims of domestic abuse escape their abusers, you can then focus on rebuilding a life — a life that would ideally include a network of friends, reconnections with loved ones, and a source of income. Building a relationship with Mr. X can come after all that. If he really loves you, he’ll wait until you’ve formed some independence so that you can finally have a relationship based on love and not on dependence.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.